The advice from the spirit of my uncle led me to a yoga ashram, way north of my ‘retirement cave.’ I was the only brown face there. On the first visit, I listened to sunyasins (dressed in the traditional garb of Indian sunyasins) expand on the philosophy of yoga. There was no reference to Hinduism, although there was mention of Rama, Krishna and others.
Most of those attending the course were relatively young. Their youth and fitness were displayed during the Ode to the Sun. It appeared that almost all of them had been attending yoga classes in the city of their residence. That explained their calisthenic approach, rather than the meditative approach I had expected to see. But that is neither here nor there; it as their devotion which mattered.
The atmosphere in the meditation room was most conducive to deep meditation, 3 extended periods per day. There may be a cumulative influence in the location, which somehow appeared enabling. Indeed, the site of the complex, the aura of tranquility, and the demeanour of the sunyasins contributed to pacifying my mind.
While I was there, a youngish sunyasin would join me at mealtimes. We all sat out in the open, on the steps of buildings or on low garden walls. I discovered that he and I had qualifications in psychology in common. What interested me is that, in spite of 17 years of meditation in an ashram, he had not had any ‘transcendental experiences’ (his words).
When I returned to the ashram a couple of years later, we talked about his experience at an ashram in India in the interim period. It was comparable to his Australian experience. Now, he was to be sent to yet another ashram. The dedication of these sunyasins is impressive. His experience, however, confirmed my feeling that, no matter the path followed in the search for spiritual enlightenment, one could realistically expect to spend considerable periods on ‘treadmills’ going nowhere fast.
Yet, on this visit, which was a silent retreat over a long Easter weekend, I had a most inspiring psychic exposure, during meditation, to one of the deities of Hinduism. I know that these deities are only representations of the one and only Creator God of all that is, an ‘unknowable’ God accepted as omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent. I have been writing prodigiously ever since – over 20 years!
The message? Go, with faith, wherever the currents in the ocean of existence take you.